Education About Asia

(culture, history, art, marriage, etc...)

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Book Review Essay, Resources

Edwin O. Reischauer and the American Discovery of Japan

BY GEORGE R. PACKARD NEW YORK: COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2010 368 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0231143547, HARDBACK Reviewed by Robert Fish Is there a social studies teacher who has never been asked, “Why does studying history matter?” Edwin O. Reischauer’s career illustrates the direct impact history and “academic” ideas can have on contemporary life. George R. Packard’s Edwin O. Reischauer and the American Discovery of Japan guides the reader through the relationship between abstract idea...

Book Review Essay, Resources

East Asia Before the West: Five Centuries of Trade and Tribute

BY DAVID C. KANG NEW YORK: COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2010 240 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0231153188, HARDBACK David C. Kang examines East Asia during a time when relations between centers of power were well established but before the Westphalian concepts of “states” and “countries” were established. Kang presents a detailed study of the politics and history of the region that challenges the Eurocentric assumptions so often accepted by teachers and students in the West; how power was exerted an...

Book Review Essay, Online Supplement, Resources

China’s Rise in Historical Perspective

EDITED BY BRANTLEY WOMACK LANHAM: ROWMAN AND LITTLEFIELD, 2010 286 PAGES, 978-0-7425-6722-1, PAPERBACK Although China’s Rise in Historical Perspective, edited by Brantley Womack, may be too advanced for secondary schools or lower-level undergraduate classes, it is an important book meriting serious attention from teachers at all levels for deepening their understanding of how China has come to challenge the economic primacy of the United States in such a short time. Discussion of China’...

Book Review Essay, Online Supplement, Resources

Teaching the Daode Jing

GARY D. DEANGELIS AND WARREN G. FRISINA, EDITORS OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, NEW YORK, 2008 206 PAGES, 978-0-19-533270-4, PAPERBACK Why the Daode Jing is a special text comes out clearly in Teaching the Daode Jing. In general, this volume will be more useful to college/university nonspecialists than high school teachers. Some essays, however, will be more helpful than others for teachers such as those by Judith Berling, Geoffrey Foy, and John Thompson, which offer more “nuts and bolts” class...

Book Review Essay, Online Supplement, Resources

The Routledge Handbook of Japanese Politics

ALISA GAUNDER, EDITOR LONDON AND NEW YORK: ROUTLEDGE, 2011 464 PAGES ISBN: 978-0415551373, HARDBACK Japan’s political economy has changed markedly in the past fifteen years. Long-term dominance by the Liberal Democratic Party in alliance with an elite bureaucracy crumbled in the 1990s in the face of unstable party politics and new societal pressures. These changes have been documented and analyzed by scholars, but a comprehensive overview of changes and continuities in Japan’s politics ...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power

Having taken a graduate-level political geography course in which the professor assigned a Robert Kaplan book as a text (The Ends of the Earth), assigned another to a class I was teaching (Warrior Politics, for undergraduate international affairs), and read still another as a primer on a region I was about to visit for the first time (Balkan Ghosts, for a US State Department-sponsored excursion to Southeast Europe), I can personally confirm the value of his work for students, educators, and prac...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Why Taiwan Matters: Small Island, Global Powerhouse

BY SHELLEY RIGGER NEW YORK: ROWMAN LITTLEFIELD, 2011 232 PAGES, ISBN: 978-1442204799, HARDCOVER Upon receiving the review copy of Dr. Shelley Rigger’s Why Taiwan Matters, I must admit to my assumption that I would be reviewing a high-caliber, insightful, detailed, and well-documented book. Although this is in fact the case, what was surprising is that for a scholarly work, this book is a real page-turner. Rigger spins a rich tapestry of Taiwan’s development in an extraordinary interdisc...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Routledge Handbook of Japanese Culture and Society

VICTORIA BESTOR, THEODOREC. BESTOR, AND AKIKO YAMAGATA, EDITORS NEW YORK: ROUTLEDGE, 2011 344 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0415436496, HARDCOVER Educators seeking a text to introduce their students to Japan will find the Routledge Handbook of Japanese Culture and Society unparalleled in both breadth and depth. The Handbook includes twenty-two chapters from leading scholars of Japan that cover an amazing range of topics, including Japanese language and politics, religion, law, architecture, food, pop cu...

Book Review Essay, Online Supplement

Neo-Confucian Self-Cultivation

  BY BARRY C. KEENAN HONOLULU: UNIVERSITY OF HAWAI'I PRESS, 2011 132 PAGES, ISBN:978-0824835484, PAPERBACK It is not a question of whether Professor Keenan’s new book is accessible for high school juniors and seniors—it is— in general. It is also not a question about whether the book is a good backgrounder for high school teachers who are interested in integrating Neo-Confucian related content into history and/or literature classes— again, it is. The real question is whether stu...

Book Review Essay, Resources

A History of East Asia: From the Origins of Civilization to the Twenty-first Century

BY CHARLES HOLCOMBE NEW YORK: CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2011 456 PAGES, ISBN 978-0-521-51595-5, HARDBACK; ISBN 978-0-52173164-5 PAPER Charles Holcombe has given instructors of East Asian history courses and world history teachers a welcome gift: his book, A History of East Asia. This volume is packed with both information and insights. The author provides interesting facts that will spice up lectures and illuminating statistics that will give students a vivid sense of East Asia’s size a...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China

BY EZRA VOGEL CAMBRIDGE, BELKNAP PRESS, 2011 849 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0674055445, HARDCOVER This most important political biography of Deng Xiaoping argues that only Deng’s unique leadership strengths made China’s extraordinary economic rise possible. Senior scholar Ezra Vogel focuses on the period from 1969 to 1992. During Mao’s vigilante violence against and purges of people perceived as disloyal to Mao and his dogmas, a period known as the Cultural Revolution, Deng was sent to a rural fa...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Waxen Wings: The Acta Koreana Anthology of Short Fiction from Korea

BRUCE FULTON, EDITOR ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA, KORYO PRESS, 2011 250 PAGES, ISBN: 978-1597432030, PAPERBACK As a teacher of world literature to high school seniors, I have experimented with many works in translation, attempting to introduce unfamiliar cultures through story. When the references are too vague or the background too intimidating, students close the book before they give the literature (and sometimes the culture) a chance. That is why Waxen Wings is a welcome work. While Korean reader...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Joe Rochefort’s War: The Odyssey of the Codebreaker Who Outwitted Yamamoto at Midway

Elliot Carlson’s Joe Rochefort’s War: The Odyssey of the Codebreaker Who Outwitted Yamamoto at Midway is a literary masterpiece. This is a long overdue biography of an individual who helped shape the events of the Pacific War following Japan’s raid on Pearl Harbor. It is not a light read, as each of the 456 pages is packed with first-rate research and brilliant analysis. Carlson’s online audio and video descriptions of his book are helpful for teachers and the general reader. But for thi...

Book Review Essay, Resources

The I Ching: A Biography

The I Ching A Biography BY RICHARD J. SMITH PRINCETON: PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2012 278 PAGES, ISBN 978-0691145099, HARDCOVER Author’s note: Smith uses the Wade-Giles spelling of “I Ching” in the title of his book, but uses the Pinyin “Yijing” in the text of the book. He includes a note about why he does this, and I will follow his choice in this review. Richard J. Smith’s The I Ching: A Biography is a concise and well-written guide to the historical development and cultu...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Lost Colony: The Untold Story of China’s First Great Victory over the West

Lost Colony The Untold Story of China’s First Great Victory over the West BY TONIO ANDRADE PRINCETON: PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2011 456 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0691144559, HARDBACK In Lost Colony, Tonio Andrade offers a highly readable account of the Sino-Dutch War of 1661–62 that resulted in the loss of the Dutch colony on Taiwan, which will be of great use for educators, their students, and general readers. Andrade treats the war as a case study to test competing explanations ...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Between the Floating Mist: Poems of Ryokan, and Lotus Moon: The Poetry of Rengetsu

Between the Floating Mist Poems of Ryōkan TRANSLATED BY DENNIS MALONEY AND HIDEO SHIRO BUFFALO, NY: WHITE PINE PRESS, 2009 96 PAGES, ISBN 978-1935210054, PAPERBACK Lotus Moon The Poetry of Rengetsu TRANSLATED BY JOHN STEVENS BUFFALO, NY: WHITEPINEPRESS, 2005 130 PAGES, ISBN 978-1893996366, PAPERBACK In addition to its importance as a major world religion, Buddhism has produced one of the longest-running, most multifaceted, and brilliantly textured literary culture...

Book Review Essay, Resources

China and the World Economy

The Great Rebalancing Trade, Conflict, and the Perilous Road Ahead for the World Economy By MICHAEL PETTIS Princeton University Press, 2013 The Globalization Paradox Democracy and the Future of the World Economy By DANI RODRIK  W. W. Norton & Company, 2012 The Leaderless Economy Why the World Economy System Fell Apart and How to Fix It By PETER TEMIN AND DAVID VINES Princeton University Press, 2013   The global impact of China’s rise, as presented by these in...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Bing: From Farmer’s Son to Magistrate in Han China

In a recently published study, Paul R. Goldin takes stock of the advances and limitations of the study of early China in Canada and the United States. Acknowledging the seminal contributions of earlier scholars in the field, he also points out liabilities that arise from the way in which North American scholars have shaped our understanding of early Chinese culture. Especially misleading, according to Goldin, is the widespread notion that “there was no room in early China for named individual ...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Theravada Buddhism: The View of the Elders

Asanga Tilakaratne’s Theravada Buddhism: The View of the Elders offers an overview of “southern Buddhism” that is both traditional and innovative, yet also problematic. Educators will find a valuable resource in its chapters that analyze central doctrines and practices. These offer apt and refreshing perspectives on Buddhism as a lived tradition for the monks and householders adhering to the dominant lineage of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia today. This book offers a correcti...

Book Review Essay, Resources

The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon: The Diary of a Courtesan in Tenth Century Japan

Pleasant Things A slim book rests lightly in one’s hand The apricot curving lips of the dust jacket woman Tile-red rectangle with white lettering Red-tile endpapers’ pattern of faint white dots Soft leaves of text A few shiny pages with golden clouds, dark green tatami, and pines Things that are Fitting A 2011 edition of The Pillow Book pleasant to sight and touch A book whose origin is a “bundle of paper” given by an Empress to a Court Lady A celebratio...